PTFPlusOne Ltd, which was incorporated in the UK in November 2013, has contacted the refinery’s current owners Phillips 66 (P66) with a proposal to buy the refinery and its marketing business.
The company has made a commitment to retain the refinery’s entire workforce, both full-time employees and contractors, which totals approximately 155 staff.
PTF’s business model for Whitegate focuses on maintaining the refinery’s current processes and partially reconfiguring it over time into a ‘green refinery’.
The company proposes to enhance the existing plant with the gradual introduction of PTF’s proprietary technology.
PTF is understood to view the refinery’s comparatively low level of complexity as an advantage and is confident of achieving significant synergies that will help the profitability of the facility.
It also proposes to expand the refinery’s facilities over time, which it claims could create extra full-time roles.
Phillips 66, through an investment bank working on its behalf, is understood to have invited PTF to participate in a due diligence phase.
A spokesperson for P66 yesterday said the marketing process of the refinery is ongoing and that a determination whether or not to go forward with a sale of the business will be made some time in 2016.
PTF’s interest is the first in the refinery since it was put back on the market in November last year by P66 who failed to attract interest in the facility during an earlier sales process that it abandoned in early 2014.
Whitegate’s future and that of its workforce has been shrouded in uncertainty ever since as an obligation on P66 to operate the refinery until July 2016 draws closer.
PTF, which has its head office in London, has contacted Finance Minister Michael Noonan with details of its proposal.
A department spokesperson confirmed that representations had been received but Mr Noonan had not met with the company and that it will be a matter for the incoming minister after the general election at the end of the month.
The Department of Energy, Communications, and Natural Resources said it had not been contacted directly but described interest in the asset as “positive”.
“It is the Government’s stated position that the refinery contributes to security of supply, employment and the local economy and the continued operation of the refinery on a commercial basis is highly desirable,” a department spokesperson said.
“While it is positive to hear about the interest in the asset, the sale process is a private commercial matter between the owner and interested parties.”